There’s a saying – “Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations,” and the Pikes Peak Ascent could certainly be what the author of that quote was referring to, because it was the most difficult race I’ve ever done in my life. Actually, it was physically just about the most difficult thing I’d ever attempted. Hell, labor with my children was the only thing more difficult.
The whole thing seemed like a good idea at the time. I had always wanted to do the Pikes Peak Marathon, but since I didn’t qualify for the marathon but I DID qualify for the Ascent race in wave 2, I registered. Just like that. No debate, no real thought about how I would train for the thing – I just did it.
So fast forward to August, which saw very little training for the event. Sure, I did a couple of hill repeats and set the treadmill incline to 15% for about 5 minutes on one of my runs, but I did no actual hill training and no trail running. Stupid. Really stupid. But hey, what’s a run up a mountain if you aren’t going to do it flying blind, right? (insert sarcasm)
Hell, the whole thing was difficult from the get-go, starting with the port-o-potty issue. I’ve been running for a while and I’ve seen some nasty ones, but this particular one was the worst I had ever seen. Never mind the fact that I always pick the wrong line wherever it is I happen to be, I thought for sure this one lone stall had the shorter line because it was completely on the other side of the racing area. No. No and double no. It was short because it had seemingly sprouted up from the bowels of Hell itself. Not only was it filled to the brim completely, but there was a pile of wet feces on the seat. ON THE DAMNED SEAT!
I walked out, stating loudly “I don’t have to pee that badly.”
I was lying. By the time I did get to the start, I realized that yes indeed, I DID really have to pee, and my bladder hurt so badly that my stomach was starting to cramp. Uh oh.
I remembered from walking around Manitou Springs (the race city) that they had a public restroom about a quarter of a mile down the course, so when I got to that point I ducked out of the race to hit the restroom. Of course doing this put me behind since I had to go way off course, and by the time I rejoined the race again I was dead last. Awesome.
So I picked up the pace a bit (a mistake in hindsight) and rejoined the masses in mile 2. I passed one, two, 10, 20 people and was starting to gain ground, but the course was starting to get steeper and I was beginning to get worried. Then BOOM. It was then I realized I really shouldn’t have rushed the pace to catch up, since there was a nice, big logjam where the actual Pikes Peak trail began and we were at a complete stop.
The break was a welcome respite since I was completely out of breath by this point. Finally settling down and into a groove, I easily kept up with everyone around me, mainly because we were moving at the speed of a glacier. Finally – a pace I could hold!
Chatting with the other runners around me took my mind off of the course difficulty for a while, and I was having a blast at this point in the race. 3 miles in and I was feeling pretty good. Someone else on the course had music playing loudly enough for us to hear, and the guy in front of me and I were both thankful for the tunes until some old biddy told the guy to turn off the music. I wanted to heave her off the side of the mountain after she complained, but I figured I should be on my best behavior. After all, I was in public and chucking people from mountains is probably frowned upon in races.
Up, up, up we trudged, and the crowd started to thin out a bit. I stayed with the guy in front of me, as we were chatting about the stick-in-the-mud lady who made the music die. Now, the oxygen deprivation was probably starting to get to me a bit at this point, as the elevation was now over 7,500 feet, so I was a little slap happy and feeling a bit buzzed. We both agreed that we would play music next year, and everyone could just deal with Milli Vanilli and a variety of lounge singers. “Volare” came to mind, and we further agreed that “What’s New, Pussycat?” would be played on a constant loop. You’re welcome, Pikes Peak Runners, you’re welcome…
Part 2 of this story will be posted on Friday, September 5. Stay tuned…